Last night, my new therapist gave me the following homework:
I want you to spend a few minutes before you go to bed at
night imagining a mother who loves and accepts you completely. She can take any
form you want. And in that form she will cradle you and love you, just as you
Okay, sounds easy enough.
Except, no. Not so easy. Absolutely terrifying. I go home,
and I look at my allotted points for the day and I begin to tell myself that
this would be a great opportunity to use some of my weekly “flex” points, the
“splurge account” as some Weight Watchers folks call it.
And I know in that moment why I want to use those points and
how it differs from a planned “splurge” event. I try to get my mind on
something else. I don’t succeed. Finally, I eat the little dessert treat that
is certainly within the confines of the overall weekly plan, except that it
wasn’t part of a plan, it was a reaction to an emotional challenge. And I came
home feeling afraid of that challenge and looking for a way to numb the
Yes, it’s better to choose something that I can “count” and
make room for, but I really don’t want to be using food this way. I really,
really don’t. I wasn’t physically hungry. I was emotionally unsettled.
After eating the little dessert (3 points, so again, not
complete craziness by any stretch of the imagination), medicated by even its
relatively small amounts of sweetness and fat and chocolate, I decided I wanted
to go to bed early. When it was time to do the homework, I blacked out. I wish
I were kidding. I’m a person who takes time to fall asleep, but I just went
unconscious. When Pure Luck came to bed later, I woke up and tried to do the
work then, but again, blackout.
In a well-lit room, it didn’t seem like such a hard thing to
attempt, except that it did, but I knew it shouldn’t be—dig that, it “shouldn’t”
be—but I have to admit that it was, it is.
I’m reading a book about a woman who worked the 12 steps
through OA, and I am rebelling against the idea that a person has to eliminate
sugar forever, and there are definitely days that I plan on treats—no, really,
I plan for them in some small measure every darn day—but there is a difference
between planning them and “needing” them as I did last night. Isn’t there? Or
maybe there isn’t. Maybe I’m medicating a chronic emotional condition with a
low daily does of sweets and only noticing it when there is an acute flare-up.
This troubles me. I want to believe what is taught at Weight
Watchers, that you can learn to live with food in moderation, eating the things
you love without going around the bend. Moderation sounds so much kinder and
more humane than abstinence.
But after last night, I am questioning myself.
And it’s all about the mother, or perhaps I should write The
Mother, my dysfunctional relationship with the Cosmic Nurturer and the earthly
ones, too. In my mind, I sense a glimpse of what that Mother might look like,
who She might be, but in my body I twist away from the thought and wonder where
are the cookies? For I nurtured myself that way, with the cookies and the glass
of milk, an escape from real life in the 3rd grade and the 4th, from that time
until now, evading the torturers–Shame and Guilt and Fear and Self-Loathing,
those Four Musketeers of misery and dissociation, the Knights of the Blackout,
the Servants of the Cookie Mother.
I guess I’ll try again tonight.